Lerna, IL. (ECWd) –
I attended the September meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Lerna and asked Village President Don Pearcy why he had not submitted a truthful Statement of Economic Interest since he was informed back in July (audio below) that the SEI he submitted was not accurate – He failed to disclose income obtained from the Village of Lerna the previous year, which resulted in a false SEI being filed.
His answer was that he went to the Coles County Clerk’s office the day after the July meeting and they would not help him file a new one, so he gave it to the village attorney. The problem is that it is Pearcy’s responsibility to file the SEI, and to file a true one – which is not the job of the attorney.
Next I asked if he would resign due to the conflict of interest with him being the Village President and the Village Maintenance Supervisor. There was no direct answer to that question, but I was left with the impression he was going to hold on to both jobs, in violation of the law, until he is forced to vacate one. ECWD’s opinion is that by taking the oath of office of Village President, he automatically forfeited his position as maintenance person for the village. This will have to be decided in a Court.
After that, Pearcy allowed the 30+ Lerna residents to voice their opinions on the subject, and they were in favor of him keeping both jobs in violation of the law because “that’s is how they’ve done it for 15 years” – like that is supposed to make it OK. I was not prepared for direct questions from the residents, but i agreed to engage in the discussion after Pearcy agree to allow it to happen. It was a lively back and forth between myself and the residents that wished to speak. I had the impression they had not been given the complete story by Pearcy, because the village attorney had previously informed him it was a conflict. Rob Bogue had a comment that the residents should not take it as a personal attack on Pearcy, but rather it should be taken as what it is, a violation of law, it needs to be fixed, and it does not mean Pearcy is a bad person. My thoughts are that it does not mean he is a bad person unless he refuses to do what is right and eliminate the conflict be resigning one of those two jobs.
After about 10-15 minutes of discussion, one of the residents asked what the village attorney thought about the conflict of interest. She replied (audio below) that she had previously informed Pearcy of the conflict and that her opinion was that it is a conflict and not in keeping with the Public Officer’s Prohibited Activities Act.
Another interesting discussion involved the Trustee who had collected payment from the Village for mowing yards (in violation of law), and who also, at the July meeting Motioned to give Pearcy a pay raise, tried defending his conflict of interest – which tells me she might still be getting paid by the village to mow yards. A request for payment information will provide that answer.
Nothing was said at this meeting that we haven’t heard before, like: “Go home“, “stay out of our town“, “you have no business here“, etc, etc…
Forthcoming articles will fully explain in detail why these are conflicts of interest and will include citations from the applicable statutes, Attorney General opinions, and Precedent setting Court Rulings.
July 2015 Lerna Public Comment:
Lerna Village Attorney response to question: